Bicentennial bash


They say it will be Baltimore's biggest fireworks show ever. This Dec. 31, the occasion is to ring in the New Year -- and to celebrate the start of Baltimore's bicentennial.

"It's the biggest one ever. For one thing, we are doing special effects off of the roofs of certain buildings," says Rosalind Healy, deputy director at the city's Office of Promotion.

The city's 200th birthday and New Year's Eve also will be celebrated with music and other events.

Outdoor tunes

The party actually begins at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and lasts until midnight at the Inner Harbor with the zydeco band Gumbo Junkyard performing. The band, which performs a mix of Cajun and zydeco music, should have revelers up and dancing, say the folks running the show at the Baltimore Office of Promotion.

Across the water in Fells Point, the modern rock group Plugged will perform from 10 p.m. to midnight. Plugged has performed as the opening act for Hootie and the Blowfish and other national acts. The band's CD, "Jaded," was released a year ago.

The fireworks display kicks off, appropriately enough, at midnight to the accompaniment of the Maryland Science Center's bells ringing out "Auld Lang Syne."

The music should be heard at several places around the area, from the Harborplace Amphitheatre to the west shore of the Inner Harbor, the Inner Harbor Ice Rink and Broadway Market in )) Fells Point.

The event will be broadcast on FM stations Mix 106.5 and the Colt 104.3.

For those who want to do more than stand around and watch the fireworks or even dance, there will be a slightly more vigorous activity.

Chills and thrills

The Inner Harbor Ice Rink on Rash Field at Key Highway will be open from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. The cost is $12 for adults and $8 for children under 12 and includes skate rental. A party hat, warm beverages and noisemakers will be supplied, as well as a warming tent for those who get a little too much of a chill.

For a lower cost, the rink will be open earlier on New Year's Eve. The early birds can enjoy the rink from noon to 8 p.m.; the cost is $5 for a two-hour session and an additional $2 for skate rental.

Call the Inner Harbor Ice Rink at (410) 385-0675 to verify ice conditions. And regular hours for the rink are Monday through Friday, noon to 2 p.m., 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., plus 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A convention of fun

Some people want to party on New Year's Eve but prefer to do most of their celebrating indoors, out of the chill. There's always the New Year's Eve celebration inside the Baltimore Convention Center, where families are welcome. The non-alcoholic festivities will take place in the expanded area of the center, at 1 W. Pratt St., from 8: 30 p.m. to 11: 30 p.m.

Actually, there will be eight parties under the roof of the convention center, with people free to go from one to the other. There will be refreshments, too.

The entertainment includes the rock and soul group Fabulous Kingpins, country music from the Maria Rose Band, the jazz of Leslie Tanner, jokes from comedian Jeff Caldwell and DJ Dan-The-Man spinning dance hits. And, of course, what's a party without karaoke and video games?

If you are curious to see what lies ahead in 1997 for you, there will be astrologers and tarot card readers at work, perhaps to give you a clue.

Entertainment for the children includes John "The Kinderman" Taylor, the Pumpkin Theater and the Brownstone Puppet Theater.

Admission to the festivities is $8 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under.

At 11: 30 p.m., people can go outside and join the fireworks display, with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke leading the countdown.

Stars and simulators

And, if that isn't enough, the Maryland Science Center is also holding New Year's Eve festivities. The Maryland Science Center will be open on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with its exhibits, demonstrations, planetarium shows, IMAX films and IWERKS simulator rides.

From 8: 30 p.m. until 11: 30 p.m., the IWERKS simulator outside of the Science Center will be available to anyone who wants to take a prehistoric journey to Dino Island, a volcanic dinosaur habitat. At 9: 30 p.m., the Rolling Stones will be on the Science Center's IMAX screen in a 90-minute concert movie, "Rolling Stones at the Max." Call (410) 685-5225 or TDD (410) 962-0223 for further information.

Fancy fireworks

However, the fireworks and laser display is sure to be the main event. And there will be more of it to enjoy than in previous years, says Healy of the city's Office of Promotion.

"The show will be about 22 minutes in length. Usually, for New Year's, we do 15 to 18 minutes. But we feel like we need to expand it to make it special," she says.

The special-effects fireworks will originate at the Inner Harbor, the World Trade Center, the 2000 Harborplace Pavilion at Light and Pratt streets, the Maryland Science Center and Federal Hill, although there will be a wide viewing area.

"The only thing we have done close to this before is fireworks off the World Trade Center about five years ago," Healy says.

"The whole purpose of this is to make it look like the Inner Harbor is a birthday cake, and these are candles going off the cake."

These special effects will jump off right at midnight and perhaps repeat again at the finale, she says. The fireworks also will be bigger than usual. "We are using more shells than we usually use and larger ones than we usually use," Healy says. The bigger the shell, the bigger the "burst," Healy explains.

In addition to the fireworks, a laser-beam show is on the agenda. "They will shoot out across the harbor, and it will be a neat effect," she says.

The fireworks and laser show can go off in a light rain but not in an extremely heavy downpour. The rain date for the show is Jan. 1 at 7 p.m.

The Facts

What: Baltimore's New Year Eve Celebration

When: 8: 30 p.m. to 11: 30 p.m.; Inner Harbor fireworks display starts at midnight (rain date Jan. 1)

Where: The Baltimore Convention Center on Pratt Street

Tickets: $8 for adults, $6 for children 12 and under

Call: (410) 837-4636 or 1-800-282-6632

Pub Date: 12/26/96

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